Arlen Feldman’s story “Graveyard” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 30 November 2018.
Graveyards always make me wistful. You see an old, pitted grave and you get a name and a date, possibly a quote, and that’s about it. Unless it’s of someone famous, you’ll almost never know anything else about the person—how did they die? How did they live?
There may be a few clues in the graveyard—how expensive the stone, where it is placed in the graveyard, how elaborate…and, more than anything else, the place and the date. 19th century Colorado? 16th century East Anglia? We know about those times, so we can start to make guesses about the person.
But what if the gravestone is on an alien planet with nothing around it? What can you figure out? For one, you know that it was put there by a being trying to memorialize someone or something—assuming it really is a gravestone. Beyond that, what?
That idea was what originally inspired _Graveyard_. The idea for the patterns on the stones came from how LPs work, and from a Danish art installation—the Asphaltophone (created by Steen Krarup Jensen and Jakob Freud-Magnus). When you drive over the Asphaltophone, it plays a melody. This idea has since been copied to create a number of “singing roads.”
The story didn’t really work, though, until I added the two characters who are both worried about how they will leave their mark on the world—which almost certainly also motivated the creators of the graveyard.
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